Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North

This was a book Mr. Curiosity found recently at the library. He had picked up To Be or Not To Be (a choose-your-own adventure version of Hamlet) last year and really enjoyed it. So, when he saw there was another similar book, he grabbed it.

Published: 2016

Genre: choose your own adventure fiction

Length: there are 476 pages in the book, but you’ll never read all of them

Setting: the world of Romeo and Juliet, which bounces around in time, depending on which adventure path you take

Summary: This is a grown-up version of a choose-your-own adventure book. Ostensibly, it’s about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In fact, if you follow all the heart choices, you can retell Shakespeare’s version of the story. But, North adds many other options to the potential outcome of the story, including telling the story from either Romeo or Juliet’s point of view. How will you choose to die today?

Final thoughts: This is such a fun book. There is tons of snark and humor that had me laughing out loud on the one version I tried. Mr. Curiosity kept going back to the book, trying to find the most outlandish way to die. Many of the endings are mundane, but each ending gets an illustration. Mr. Curiosity enjoyed flipping through the book to see the different endings, but got frustrated trying to choose his way to the more interesting stories (like the Nurse Quest, or the choose-your-own adventure book within the book). It’s a lot of fun to just pick up and play with, and would make an interesting accompaniment for anyone studying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Title comes from: I love how North was able to take the traditional title of the Shakespeare play the book is based on and indicate it’s a choose-your-own adventure story.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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The World According to Garp by John Irving

I’m still trying to finish my Reading the Alphabet Challenge for this year, although it’s looking less and less likely that will actually happen. I do have all the books planned out to finish the letters I need. This fills in an I author. I pulled it off the BBC’s The Big Read list that I’m working my way through.

Published: 1978

Genre: literary fiction

Length: 688 pages (long books like this don’t help me finish my challenges – what was I thinking!)

Setting: mostly New Hampshire, 1940s-1970s Continue reading

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Curse of the Ancients by Matt de la Pena

Gymnastics season has started, which means Miss Adventure and I have meets to drive to. I have the chance to carpool to a couple of the meets, but our first meet was 3.5 hours away and just the two of us in the car. Audiobooks to the rescue to keep me awake on that long drive home! I didn’t bother to get an audiobook myself because Miss Adventure had two on her device that we could listen to. I have listened to the first three books in the Infinity Ring series (although it’s been a while), so the fourth one was appropriate

Published: 2013

Genre: middle grade science fiction

Length: 192 pages

Setting: Mostly in a Mayan City, ~600 A.D. Continue reading

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The Machine Starts by Greg Bear

Welcome back! I hope all my American friends had a lovely Thanksgiving. My family went up to my parents’ house and I got to see my sister and brother and the kids got to play with cousins. The weather was a bit cold and rainy, but the kids still went out to play football. Fun was had all around! And now, back to book reviews. Or, since it’s Monday, a short story review. I’m back to reviewing a story from Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft, this one by Greg Bear. He’s written quite a few science fiction books, and won lots of awards, but I haven’t had the pleasure of reading anything by him yet.

Published: 2015

Genre: science fiction

Setting: near future American city

Summary: The narrator works for a company trying to develop the first working quantum computer. They’ve had two failed attempts, but are hopeful the latest, bigger version will function correctly. The chief of the project decides to try something different and consider what they thought to be errors to instead by off-phase echoes between the braided qubits. Incorporating them into the programming makes the quantum computer work, but it also brings about an unintended consequence. Copies of the people on the project keep showing up from alternate dimensions in the multiverse, and those two copies disappear if they see each other. The story finishes with our narrator driving away, looking for a place no other copy of his will also look to be in.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t as impressed with this story. For one thing, the technical jargon got pretty thick when the project managers talked about the quantum computer. Quantum mechanics definitely makes my head hurt. Unfortunately, the story wasn’t compelling enough for me to forgive the jargon. I didn’t really understand what the narrator’s role in the company was. He mentioned several times that he wasn’t as smart as everyone else (in fact, that’s how the story started, which kind of put me off from the narrator from the start), and seemed to be around just to keep people happy. Then we have the problem of multiple copies of yourself appearing in the world and no one does anything about it. Everyone just goes on as if life were fine. How do you even know which copy is the original? And what happens if the original and a copy see each other? Do they both disappear, or does the world’s original get to stay? The narrator seemed to think both disappear. He at least tried to react to the copies, but only by running away. It probably didn’t help I’m reading a novel about computer programming at the same time, so I’m computered out at the moment.

Title comes from: They started up the quantum computer and finally got it to work in this story.


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Thanksgiving break

Just wanted to let all my readers know that I will be taking a bit of a break from the blog. We’re heading to Toronto for a mini-vacation today, and then Thanksgiving is when we come back. Between all the travel, I won’t have time to update the blog with any new book reviews. So, check out some of the archives if you’re looking for a book to read over the holidays, and I’ll be back in a week!

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What I Will Be Reading #29: Kid’s Edition

This edition of What I Will Be Reading would be more accurately described as What My Kids Will Be Reading. I’ve seen a bunch of posts of books that look like something my kids would enjoy, so I’m putting together a list for them, instead of me. Might as well get them their own “To Read” lists, right!

Let’s start with Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Donn Fedler. This a true survival story about a kid who got lost in the woods in Maine in the 1930s and how he survived his ordeal. I wasn’t aware of this book until I saw a post by The Scraped Up Kid (incidentally, a great blog about getting outside and enjoying yourself at any age, focusing on Maine trails). This book is right up our alley, and I plan to read it aloud to the kids. The story is told by Donn Fedler, who was the kid who got lost, right after his experience. If you’d prefer, there’s a graphic novel version of the story that looks awesome, but isn’t available from our library, Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness, also by Donn Fedler.

Next up is Jars of Hope: How One Woman Helped Save 2,500 Children During the Holocaust by Jennifer Roy. This book was brought to my attention by A Mighty Girl’s Facebook page (which daily provides women and girls who have done impressive things and books featuring strong female characters). Again, I had never heard about Irena Sendlar and her actions during WWII, so I decided to investigate. Jars of Hope is a picture book (but with a fair amount of text on each page) that A Mighty Girl recommends for ages 7-11. If you have an older child, or want more details after reading the Jars of Hope, try Irena’s Children: Young Readers Edition; A True Story of Courage by Mary Cronk Farrell that is recommended for ages 13+.

And finally, I’m going to recommend a fiction book, Book Scavenger, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. This is the first book in a new series. The plot of the book is based around the Book Scavenger game. There are books hidden in various cities, and you get puzzles and clues to try to find the books first. It sounded to me like a book version of 39 Clues for a slightly older audience (since the book is almost 400 pages). Mr. Curiosity read the book and enjoyed the puzzles.

Finally, if you’re looking for more suggestions for kids, I recommend you listen to this week’s episodes of What Should I Read Next by The Modern Mrs. Darcy. Miss Adventure got about seven new books for her reading list by listening to the end of Episode 49: How to help kids fall in love with reading (with Sarah Mackenzie of Read Aloud Revival). That podcast does dangerous things to my reading list in general.

And those are the books I’m recommending my kids should read. Anything else I should add to the list?

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is the fifth book in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. I enjoy the series enough I actually bought the books, and didn’t just get them from the library.

Published: 1996

Genre: urban fantasy

Length: 370 pages

Setting: mostly Branson, Missouri, soon after the events of The Lunatic Cafe Continue reading

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